For many years China has retained its position as the largest clothing exporter in the world, but this could change in years to come.
China’s gradual move away from labor-intensive manufacturing, such as in the garment industry is typical of industrialized countries as wages and standards of living rise and population growth slows.
China’s government not only acknowledges its inevitable shift in manufacturing but also is actively promoting it.
Undoubtedly, China is still a major player, but garment exports will likely account for a smaller portion of China’s total GDP in the years ahead. This will present opportunities for importers of products that require more sophisticated manufacturing.
But as we’ll see, China’s increasing wages will force more garment importers to move production to less developed countries that offer lower costs.
Indeed, importers’ preferences for lower wages are eroding China’s competitiveness putting China’s East Coast provinces — the traditional heartland of Chinese garment production — out of the market for many high-volume, basic clothes.
China’s advanced garment factories have found a market in diversification by producing lower volumes of higher quality and more technical garments.
Technical garments, also known as “TechWear” include items constructed with special fabric and techniques that allow for breathability, movement, water-resistance, and comfort. Manufacturers can sell these garments at a higher margin, offsetting higher labor costs.
Stringent environmental regulations recently enacted by the Chinese government have caused many textile manufacturers to be shut down are stricter than many other places in the world.
Mr. Sun Ruizhe, president of the China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC) predicts the biggest step forward for China’s textile industry in terms of sustainability in the past decade “I think the biggest step forward for environmental progress in China’s textile sector is the innovation-driven sustainable development.
Innovation-driven sustainable development includes three aspects.
- Energy conservation, emission reduction, and environmental compliance as the basic requirements for enterprises in the manufacturing process.
- Green manufacturing and green products have been the main trends in the transformation and upgrading of the Chinese textile industry.
- China has now adopted a key role in promoting the environmental progress of the global textile supply chain.”
“According to state laws and policies, local governments have taken many effective steps to promote local textile industries transformation and upgrading.
Many industries were ordered to stop production for consolidation and industrial parks were built to enhance the concentrated manufacturing, energy conservation, emission reduction, and pollution control.
In addition to State laws, many local governments have established provincial laws and industrial standards for green manufacturing.”
In May 2019, Lycra opened an Advanced Technology Innovation center in Nanhai, China.
Scientists at the R&D center will work with mills, brands, and retailers throughout Asia, as well as Western-based companies with local sourcing offices, in order to create innovative fabrics and garments using the company’s branded textile solutions, which include LYCRA fibre, LYCRA HyFit fibre, COOLMAX fibre, and THERMOLITE fibre.
“Developing groundbreaking innovations and creating new garment categories are part of our company’s heritage and critical to our success going forward,” said Bob Kirkwood, chief technology officer. “Our investment in ATIC not only enhances our global R&D capabilities but also demonstrates our commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers based in Asia.”
“Renowned for its history of transforming apparel and revolutionizing the fashion industry, The Lycra Company’s customers can expect the same focus on compliance, quality, innovation, branding, and marketing they have experienced in the past.”
Loro Piana SpA Expansion
Loro Piana is one of the top suppliers of wool and cashmere in the world. They have been sourcing from China for years under their stringent Italian quality control standards.
Loro Piana is building a new sheep farming facility in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Fabio D’Angelantonio, CEO of Loro Piana, said the company has signed an agreement with the Chinese government and a third-party firm to establish a joint venture in the region.
The new farm is expected to supply the brand with high-quality wool.
Pier Luigi Loro Piana, deputy chairman of Loro Piana, says: “We believe that cashmere is one of the best materials for a modern lifestyle. And China is the country that produces the best cashmere in the world. We wanted to start with the best.”
An AI (Artifical Intelligence) “designer” is transforming how products are created, by applying “deep learning” – essentially extensive studying by a machine of a database of information — to produce original designs.